During the pre-colonial times, Filipinos have their own ancient indigenous beliefs; but it was not until the 16th century, during the Spanish era, when Christianity was introduced and brought by the missionaries in Cebu. Today, roughly 85 percent of the Philippine’s population are Christians (mostly Roman Catholic). And with the Filipino’s continuous practice of faith and devotion to Christianity, it has been blessed with so many beautiful churches, which today, become tourist attractions, and some were proudly listed as World Heritage Sites. And to provide you with an ultimate list of our country’s historical Catholic churches, here are the 30 Beautiful Churches in the Philippines, from Mindanao, Visayas up to Luzon.
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Most Beautiful Catholic Church in Luzon
1. Basilica of St. Martin de Tours
Named after its patron saint, St. Martin de Tours, this church is known to be Asia’s largest Catholic Church. Built under the Augustinians, this historical church is situated in the heart of Taal, Batangas. Boasting its baroque themed architecture, you will be amazed by the awe-inspiring design, from the facade, up to the interiors. And from the bell tower, you’ll get to see the magnificent view of Balayan Bay and Taal Lake. It also has a mini-museum and quaint shops nearby. Not only the biggest church but also one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.2. National Shrine of St. Padre Pio
“Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry.” this line can be seen as devotees approach the facade of the beautiful Padre Pio Church. Named after the stigmatist Capuchin priest, Padre Pio, this eco-friendly piece of architecture is made of wood, stone, and bamboo and has a touch of truly amazing Filipino tropical designs and character, with Sasa grass on its built. The shrine was also declared as one of the pilgrimage churches of the Archdiocese of Lipa during its Centennial Year. Most of its devotees attest to the great healing power through their devotion and faith in the patron saint and continues to share their stories of healing and miracles. Truly, this is one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
3. Manila Cathedral
Manila Cathedral or the “The Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception” is situated in Intramuros Manila and has undergone numerous repairs and renovations due to countless earthquakes, typhoons, war, and even fire. From being a simple parish, dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcion, it is now known as the mother of all churches, cathedrals, and basilica. The cathedral also serves as a resting place for former archbishops in Manila. Well designed facade, rose-glass windows, numerous chapels, statues, and altar and carvings, this Romanesque Revival designed architecture is definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
4. Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag
“Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag or simply known as “Our Lady of Manaoag” is one of the most visited religious churches in Pangasinan. Aside from being a major pilgrimage site in the Philippines, the shrine is well known as a “healing shrine” with numerous devotees praying and seeking for miracles. Miraculous events attributed to Our Lady of Manaoag are being depicted in the murals of the church. During WWII, the blessed place was not even spared from the Japanese. As bombs were dropped along the area, church structures were slightly damaged, but out of the four bombs, the last bomb dropped miraculously did not explode, the one dropped in the sanctuary. Not only a historical place but also a spiritual haven, truly one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
5. Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church
Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church, also known as the Calasiao Church in Pangasinan, was declared as one of the National Cultural Treasure by the NCCA back in 2001. Though it has undergone renovations, it is carefully repaired with sure permission from the NCCA. This Baroque-styled church was made of bricks stones and the traditional adobe stones of Pangasinan. It is known to be one of the most-preserved Baroque churches in Pangasinan, upholding its magnificent interiors and so as the facade. It also has a museum, just beside the church, a collection of the old stories and facts about this wonderful creation. Well preserved magnificence, this is definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
6. Barasoain Church
Known as the “Cradle of Democracy in the East”, Barasoain Church or the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish has played a role in the Philippine History as it served as a venue of the republic’s first inauguration, the drafting of the Malolos Constitution, and the convening of the First Philippine Congress. This religious site was also proclaimed as a National Shrine by President Marcos. This Baroque styled creation has been delicately preserved, with its intricate carvings, old facade, and beauteous interiors. A historic site of pilgrimage, definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
7. Liliw Church
St. John the Baptist Parish Church, or well known as Liliw Church (also known as Lilio Church), is a baroque-inspired architecture and notable by its elegant red-bricked facade. This wonderful church was built during the Spanish era and has undergone reconstructions too due to catastrophes, like earthquakes and even fires. As you enter the church, white sculptures of saints welcome you, and inside, various religious artworks can be seen, solemnity within every corner. A beautiful church in Liliw, and most definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
8. Paoay Church
St. Augustine Church of Paoay, or better known as Paoay Church, is just one of the most famous churches in the Philippines which is declared as a Natural Cultural Treasure and even proclaimed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This earthquake Baroque architecture was built in 1694 by the Augustinian friars, known to be one of the oldest churches in the country. The structure is made of coral stones and bricks, very well designed, and a mixed style of Baroque, Gothic and Oriental elements. To somehow safeguard the church from frequent earthquakes, it has been designed to detach its bell towers from the church, to avoid collision of structures when a catastrophe happens. With its stunning designs, beautiful landscape, and historical character, this church is definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
9. Our Lady of Piat Church
Our Lady of Piat Church in Cagayan was built around the 16th century, situated at the top of a hill to keep it safe from the seasonal overflowing of the Chico River. History tells that a black image of the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus was brought by the Dominican friars, and later on, a small sanctuary was built for this religious image. It was then brought to Lal-lo Cagayan and was introduced to the locals. The church is a Romanesque architectural designed structure made of red bricks and interiors with carved wood ceilings of historical images. Right next to the church is Piat Basilica Museum, with displayed collections of the Basilica’s artifacts. Might be a long trip up North but travel is truly worthy, giving devotees and even tourists the serene feel, calmness, and a renewed spirit. Truly, this is one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
10. Daraga Church
Daraga Church, also known as Our Lady of the Gate Parish Church, was built in the year 1772 by Franciscan priests. This Churrigueresque Baroque-styled structure is nestled on top of a hill, with the commanding views of Mt. Mayon. The facade is made out of volcanic rocks, which are abundant in the place, and the lime coating was applied to protect it from deterioration. Several repairs have been done to the church, hence, loses of its significance. Still, some parts of this old church were declared as National Cultural Treasures by the National Museum. This is one of Albay’s crowning glory of religious architecture, definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
Most Beautiful Catholic Church in Visayas
1. Santo Niño Basilica
Santo Niño Basilica, or Basilica Menore del Santo Niño in Cebuano, was built way back in 1565, founded by an Augustinian friar, Fr. Andres de Urdaneta. This wonderful church stands as the Mother and Head of All Churches in the country. The facade architecture of the church is a combination of Muslim, Romanesque and neo-classical style, well preserved with its natural stone texture and color. The church was not even spared from catastrophe, badly hit by the 2013 earthquake that devastated the Visayas region. Belfry and facade were damaged but were being restored and later re-opened to the public. Every third Sunday of the start of the year, the church is filled with countless devotees, locals, and even tourists, to celebrate the Sinulog festival, a celebration of thanksgiving for the blessings received from the Holy child, Señor Sto. Niño. A must-visit religious architecture, this is definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
2. Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, also known as The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Angels and of St. Vitales, was established as a diocese in 1595, and later on, became a metropolitan archdiocese in 1934. During WWII, the church has been badly destroyed by the bombing, leaving only the belfry, facade, and walls safe, and was then reconstructed. Aside from being a holy venue for Eucharistic celebrations, it also serves as a resting place for the remains of Cebu’s bishops and clergies. As to the style, the cathedral is designed as a Baroque-Rococo style, and a facade decorated with floral motifs, Phoenixes, images of St. Peter and Paul, and a clamshell medallion of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. Historical and typical Spanish architecture, truly one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
3. Simala Parish Church
This castle-like church in Sibonga, Cebu, also known as Monastery of the Holy Eucharist, is also the sanctuary for the Monks of Mary. It’s a huge shrine of the miraculous Virgin Mary, a popular pilgrimage site for devotees offering prayers, wishes, thanksgiving, and special petitions. Inside the church, you’ll get to see numerous testimonials of faith and healing, stories of miracles from serious devotees whose wishes and prayers have been granted. Not only a sacred place for miracle believers but also a magnificent structure, definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
4. San Sebastian Cathedral
San Sebastian Cathedral is the century-old cathedral of Negros Occidental, built-in 1876, and is considered to be the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bacolod. This baroque architecture was built through the help of local believers, volunteered to help in the construction, by lifting stones and bricks, and even donated some properties to the church. The cathedral was named after the early Christian saint and martyr, San Sebastian, with a statue placed at the main altar, with two arrows pierced through his body and one arrow on his neck. He is the patron saint of archers, athletes, and of a holy death. A display not only of physical grandeur but also a sacred place built through faith and devotion, this is definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
5. St. Anne Parish Church
St. Anne Parish Church, or better known as the “Molo Church”, was built in 1831, and is the only Gothic church in the Philippines, outside of Manila. It is considered a heritage site in the Molo district and is very well known for being a “women’s/feminist church” for having 16 statues of female saints along the main aisle of the church. This amazing church is made of coral rocks, affixed with a mortar made from egg whites mixed with sand. Like other old churches, it has survived calamities and wars and it served as an evacuation center for the civilians during WWII. In 1992, it has been declared by the National Historical Institute as a national landmark. A true display of Ilonggo artistry, definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
6. Miag-ao Church
Miag-ao Church, also known as the “Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church”, built-in 1787, was well known to be one of the best examples of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines. In 1993, it was declared as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and was also declared as a national shrine by former President Ferdinand Marcos. Designed to have thick walls, it was believed that the church served as a bastion against the Moros in the past. This Baroque Romanesque designed structure displays its artistic sculptural carvings, like on the facade, is where you’ll see the image of St. Christopher carrying the child Christ while holding on to a coconut tree amid the papaya and guava shrubs. The impressive design of the church is considered to be an architectural gem, a showcase of true Filipino culture and way of life. This is definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
7. Navalas Church
Navalas Church, or also known as “The Parish of St. Isidore the Worker in Navalas, Buenavista”, was built in 1880. This is the oldest existing Roman Catholic Church in the Province of Guimaras. With quaint architecture, this church is reminiscent of the Jaro Cathedral in Iloilo. The church used to have a bell, bigger than the present one but was hauled off by Muslim raiders. It was hung before at the belfry but was taken away and was dumped into the sea, near Isla del Siete Pecados. This is the only existing heritage church on the Island of Guimaras, definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
8. Panay Church
Panay Church also called Santa Monica Parish Church, is one of the historical churches in the Visayas region. It is also known to be the home of the largest Church bell not only in the Philippines but also in Asia. This church made of coral blocks was founded in 1698 by the Augustinian friars. It has also been declared as a National Historic Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in 1997. It is a Filipino Colonial Neo-Classical Baroque styled structure, shaped in the form of a Latin cross. The facade is simply decorated with pillars and horizontal ledges with the recess of life sized statues of Saints Tomas de Villanueva and Monica. The church was also declared to be a National Historic Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2011. Historical and a cultural treasure, Panay Church is definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
9. Jaro Cathedral
Jaro Cathedral or the Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary (commonly known as Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral / the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles) is considered to be one of Iloilo’s oldest, built in Panay in 1864. It is represented by a historic 16th century stone carving of the Virgin carrying both Jesus and a lit Candle. This Romanesque Revival styled structure has its own unique feature, with its bell tower placed across the church street, in Jaro Plaza. Another feature is the all-male ensemble of saints placed on the main pillars, with the exception of the Virgin’s icon. In 1976, the church was also declared as a historical landmark by the National Historical Institute of the Philippines. Truly, this is one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
10. Baclayon Church
Baclayon Church, also known as The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary Parish Church, is considered to be one of the oldest Catholic stone churches in the Philippines, built-in 1717 by the locals of Baclayon. It was formerly home to Spanish Jesuit missionaries but was forced to move to Loboc due to fears of being mobbed by the Moro marauders. This neoclassical style structure is made of coral stones and was cemented using egg whites. Baclayon Church was also declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines and a National Historic Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. It was formerly included as well in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List of the Philippines, not until in 2013, when the church was totally destructed by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake. Adjacent to the church is a museum with a collection of centuries-old relics. Truly, this is one of the oldest and most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
Most Beautiful Catholic Church in Mindanao
1. Caraga Church
Caraga Church, also known as San Salvador del Mundo Church, was built in 1884 and was known to be the oldest church in Mindanao and one of the few remaining Spanish colonial-era churches in Mindanao. In 2012, it has been declared as a National Historic Site by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Not only an important cultural property, this church is significant not only in the province but to the whole country since it is where Christianity began, in the Eastern part of the Philippines. This old stone church is made of coral and limestone blocks/rocks placed on top of each other, while the upper half is constructed mainly of wood. The main door has an inscription of the symbol of Christ which dates the structure’s foundation in 1884. It also houses several artifacts including the two-centuries-old giant seashells that serve as holy water font, a baptismal font used during the Spanish era, a church bell that dates back to 1802, and an antique statue of San Isidro Labrador. Fascinating relics, a significant part of Christianity in the country, truly, this is one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
2. San Juan Bautista Church
San Juan Bautista Church, or commonly known as Jimenez Church, was built in the second half of the 19th century by the Augustinian Recollects. This Baroque and Renaissance styled structure is known to be one of the best-preserved interiors of a Roman Catholic church in Mindanao. In 2001, it has been declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum and one of the 26 Spanish Colonial Era churches under the conservation program of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). An important heritage, and one of the chief attractions of Misamis Occidental, this is definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
3. St. James Church
St. James Church in Dapitan is a Baroque-styled church built-in 1871 by the Jesuits, in honor of St. James the Great. This magnificent creation, in the heart of Dapitan City, is made of indigenous materials such as rocks, sea corals and lime, and is still well-preserved up to this day. This old Spanish structure symbolizes the early Christianization of the city. Interior is quite fascinating, especially the ceiling and dome design, with amusing patterns, catchy to the eyes. Part of history, this church is where Dr. Jose Rizal attends mass during Sundays, during his exile in Dapitan. Truly, this is one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
4. Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral
Built-in 1894 by the Spanish friars, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral (or also known as Dipolog Cathedral), was made in honor of Our Lady of Holy Rosary. It was believed that the original altar of the cathedral was designed by Dr. Jose Rizal, the country’s national hero, during his exile in Dapitan. Like other churches, it has undergone several renovations, with the latest, in 2009, rebuilding the facade of the cathedral with marbles. Interior is just simply astounding, with ceilings made of Narra wood. Authentic grandeur, this is definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
5. Immaculate Concepcion Church
Immaculate Concepcion Church is the first church of Jasaan, built between 1723 to 1830. This Barn Style Baroque architecture was a provincial attempt to mimic the famous San Ignacio Church of Intramuros in Manila. Significant features of this structure include the original brick paving, neo-Gothic retablo, and ceiling woodwork. It also has two bell towers, with an old bell dated back to 1807. With its historical and cultural value, the church was declared to be a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum in 2001. Truly, this magnificent creation is considered to be one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
6. Saint Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral
Saint Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral is located in Cagayan de Oro, was founded in 1624, in dedication to Saint Augustine. History tells that the church was previously settled in an area called Huluga or Himologan, and was, later on, moved to Cagayan de Oro, founded by the Augustinian Recollects. It was moved to its current location to their belief that it would be easier to defend the church from marauding pirates and enemies. It was attacked several times by Non-Christian soldiers from the areas of Mindanao, not spared by the fire, due to its light materials. It has undergone renovations due to these instances, rebuilding the church from wood to stone. This Neo Gothic-styled structure boasts its magnificent interior, of Raphaelite-inspired stained-glass windows. The church is said to be part of the destinations for the Cagayan de Oro Heritage Walk Tour, simple evidence that it is one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
7. San Pedro Cathedral
San Pedro Cathedral or Davao Cathedral is the city’s premier landmark, built-in 1847 by the first Spanish settlers in the area. This Neo-Gothic style architecture serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Davao and is considered as a National Cultural Treasure. Special features of the oldest cathedral of Davao include the frontal-curved roofing, designed to resemble the prow of a vinta, gliding over waters, carrying a Cross at the helm. Vinta, representing the Muslim Mindanao, and the Cross representing Christianity. Another notable feature is the Bell Tower which houses the image of Pieta, a statue depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, and the tablets of the Ten Commandments of God. A true historical landmark, definitely one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
8. Christ the King Cathedral
The Christ the King Cathedral in Tagum City, was built in 1993, solely from donations, and was completed along with the celebration of the silver anniversary of the Diocese of Tagum City in 2005. This cathedral is where you can find the largest and longest wooden rosary in the world. This magnificent artwork is made of magcono (ironwood), which is native to the mountains of Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur. The giant rosary was a project of the Knights of Columbus to commemorate the silver anniversary of the Catholic Diocese of Tagum City. A combination of modern and traditional design, the biggest basilica in Mindanao serves as a chief attraction for tourists. Truly, it is one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
9. Tamontaka Church
Tamontaka Church in Cotabato City was built in 1872 and is the first Christian church in the city. In 1879, the church has been relocated in its present location. Like other churches, it has been damaged as well by the earthquake and even fire, with only the facade spared with its original structure. It also has an interesting underground passageway leading you to a catacomb, which is a part of the network of caves from which the name of the city was derived. A Spanish influenced architecture, with relics of the living past, truly one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.
10. San Nicolas de Tolentino Cathedral
San Nicolas de Tolentino Cathedral can be found in the isolated community of Tandag, on the eastern side of Mindanao, part of the Surigao Peninsula. It was built in the 1950s and was expanded during the ’80s, adding improvements and extensions to the structures and interior. It is said that the church started as a “kamalig”, made of Nipa leaves, on the same spot where it is standing now. A cathedral with a very grand design, truly one of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines.